Black Lives Matter: Our Progress Update, November 2021

The Roll20 Team

The Roll20 Team


In June of 2020, we made a commitment: Black Lives Matter. As part of this commitment, we laid out a series of action items we’d work towards to help create a fairer, more equitable space in tabletop for people of color.

October is over, and with Roll20Con on the horizon, we wanted to provide an update on progress.

1. Lift Black voices.

We will create space for Black people in the tabletop community who want access to our audience and platform.

We’ve recently slowed down the publication on our blog, and in turn, our Guest Blog, which was our main tool for driving this commitment. But we’re looking to spin the Guest Blog up once again starting in November, and we’re once again taking–paid–pitches for content. Writers can apply here.

We’re looking for pitches that help highlight unseen corners of the hobby and industry; deep dives into why you love small or otherwise niche game systems, unexpected places or people you’ve played with, and personal stories about your connection to games/materials. We want to use the Guest Blog to help lift your voice and your story. If you’ve got a pitch that’s in-line with those goals, apply here.

2. Support Black content creators.

We will continue to ensure our video content features Black streamers and GMs. We will boost the work of the Black tabletop community, and continue to offer resources through our Spotlight program to content creators.

In the near future, we’re working with an awesome cast of diverse voices to make this year’s Roll20Con the best it can be. We’ve got so many exciting streams to share with you all, and our cast is full of talented players and GMs.

In the long-term, we’re taking a look at our Spotlight program internally and considering the ways we can make it better. We’re still always looking for new Spotlight applicants, so we always encourage you to apply.

You also might have noticed that we’ve shifted some of our YouTube content to focus more on tutorials and education than Actual Plays. This isn’t a forever change; we’ll be rebooting some of our Actual Play content in the near future (early 2022) and we hope to support more content creators through this program.

3. Add artwork and games by Black creators to the Roll20 Marketplace.

In the past year, we’ve added over 20 new or updated licenses to the Roll20 Marketplace. Of those releases, half of them are with games, creative teams, or studios from underrepresented and historically excluded groups.

Further, within our long-standing licenses, we’ve seen a greater focus on underrepresented communities in titles published and converted to Roll20. We’re also working to shine a brighter light on marketplace content featuring underrepresented communities within our marketing initiatives.

Moving forward, we’re also working to make sure an increased proportion of the independent creators who we partner with on the Roll20 Marketplace are identified with underrepresented and historically excluded groups. In addition to improving the accessibility of our application and sales policies, procedures, and documentation, we are focusing on building the tools necessary to measure the Creator demographic through safe, secure, and voluntary self-identification, allowing us to locate and amend areas of improvement

4. Create Change Internally

We’ve done much work since March to understand where we are as an organization - though small, we are quite a diverse workplace which is not at all common within tech or gaming. But with that representation comes the challenge and the real work, it’s not enough for us to simply have representation, we have to do the work to strive for equity and focus on inclusion.

One way you might have seen us doing the work: We changed the way we wrote our job descriptions to give clarity to both candidates and to our folx in those roles today. We shifted to a format called Impact Job Descriptions where we really hone in on helping candidates and hiring managers understand the Impact we expect this role to have.

When companies are unclear in their job descriptions, both candidates and employees will struggle. Many studies show that people who identify with historically excluded communities will struggle more than their peers who come from a place of privilege.

For candidates, we outline where we would expect them to be at 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months. We highlight the things we expect them to Own, what we expect them to Teach us, and the things that we expect them to Learn. Much credit to Jennifer Kim and the team at Lever for pioneering this format and inspiring us to move in this direction.

5. Match $50,000 in community fundraising.

Last summer, we started a Tiltify campaign to partner with the Roll20 community to raise money for Code2040, a non-profit organization dedicated to breaking down barriers in tech faced by Black and Latinx technologists. We launched with the goal of matching $50,000 in community donations and have currently raised a little over $30,000. It’s been inspiring to see what our community has come together to accomplish.

We have some special things planned for this year’s Roll20Con to help cross that finish line, and look forward to talking about those more in-depth as that date gets closer, but in the meantime, you can donate here to keep the campaign going.

6. Hold ourselves accountable.

We’ve worked with some fantastic consultants who have helped us begin forming a DEI vision statement and implement it in a way that really helps us weave the work into EVERYTHING we do. We’re not at the point where we are ready to publish that statement externally, but hopefully the spirit behind it will be no surprise to anyone who has been following these updates. We will continue to find ways to be anti-racist and anti-oppressive. We want to be inclusive and equitable in how we approach all of our work. But most of all… we want to hold ourselves accountable.

We’re taking the time to really set a vision and a framework that will help us continuously improve our workplace and our community.

The Roll20 Team Roll20

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